It’s that time of year… Florida East Coast Railway Christmas Train is coming to town

Santa is coming to visit good boys and girls this week when Florida East Coast (FEC) Railway’s eighth annual Christmas Train comes to town on Saturday, December 9th.

The FEC Christmas Train is run in coordination with the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots Foundation and travels from Jacksonville to Miami along FEC Railway’s 351-mile mainline track.

Along the way, Santa Claus will be spreading holiday cheer from the decorated, historic FEC passenger cars. US Marine Corps service members will be at each stop along the route to greet Santa and his FEC elves. Santa will de-board at each stop so children can tell him what they’d like for Christmas. It is a beloved tradition among FEC employees, their families, customers, suppliers and the communities in which they serve.

“We are proud to be able to once again work alongside the Marine Corps and the Toys for Tots Foundation to contribute to those in need during the holiday season,” said Jim Hertwig, FEC President and CEO.

“Since we started the program seven years ago, we have donated close to 300,000 toys for distribution throughout the community, and it only continues to grow,” he continued.

The FEC Christmas Train is a 501c3, so anyone who would like to make a donation to the organization can receive a tax deduction. All donations will go toward children and teens in need in the local community.

Santa and his merry train will make eight stops at the railroad crossings listed below for approximately 20 minutes, during which strict safety procedures will be in place for the security and enjoyment of everyone in attendance:

City RR Crossing Location Times (approximate)
Jacksonville Mussel Acres Road – West 7:10 AM
St. Augustine San Sebastian View – East 8:10 AM
New Smyrna Beach Canal Street – East 10:05 AM
Cocoa Dixon Boulevard – West 11:45 AM
Fort Pierce Orange Avenue – West 1:30 PM
West Palm Beach 36th Street – East 3:00 PM
Fort Lauderdale SW 17th Street – West 4:25 PM
Miami NE 87th Street – West 5:15 PM

About Florida East Coast Railway

The Florida East Coast (FEC) Railway is a 351-mile freight rail system located along the east coast of Florida. It is the exclusive rail provider for PortMiami, Port Everglades, and Port of Palm Beach. FEC Railway connects to the national railway system in Jacksonville, Fla., to move cargo originating or terminating there. Based in Jacksonville, Fla., FEC Railway provides end-to-end intermodal and carload solutions to customers who demand cost-effective and premium quality.

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Nighty-night for subways? Not in NYC

AM NY

Ready to dream?

And we mean REALLY dream?

Picture a modern, wheelchair-accessible subway system, with new stations and new or expanded subway lines that wind their way underground through underserved neighborhoods in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens.
Think of a 24-mile new light rail stretching from Co-op City to Bay Ridge, and a single commuter rail network that allows for a one seat ride from New Jersey to Long Island.

Then imagine that the entire subway system is closed overnight.
Did you just wake up from a dream turned nightmare?

Welcome to the Regional Plan Association’s fourth regional plan, a 300-plus page document that could serve as the ultimate wish list. But be patient.

The agenda released last week by the research and advocacy group is meant to be a long-term strategy that looks at the next 25 years and covers the entire tristate area. It puts a significant spotlight on NYC, with particular attention to transit, roads, the environment and affordability. The big thinking is welcome — and rare. But many of the RPA’s proposals go beyond what’s likely or realistic, including new subway lines that would stretch down Jewel Avenue and Northern Boulevard in Queens, and Utica Avenue in Brooklyn, and even a rail tunnel that would connect Brooklyn and Staten Island. A second bus terminal under the Javits Center and the relocation of Madison Square Garden are among RPA’s other suggestions.

But there are also more realistic ideas, like prioritizing the modernization of subway tracks, signals and stations; adding select bus service; extending the Second Avenue Subway to 125th Street; and tolling the East River bridges and entrances into midtown to change driving habits and add funds for transit. All are worth serious consideration.
And it’s certainly smart to look for ways to get the subway work done faster and at lower cost. That might mean shutting a line or two for short periods when significant work is needed — and that makes sense.
But closing the entire subway overnight? Permanently?
Not in the city that never sleeps.

The Midwest doesn’t have enough early-stage capital – here’s one (radical) solution

Silicone Prarire News

Every founder, funder, and entrepreneurial support organization in the Midwest says the exact same thing: There just isn’t enough early-stage capital. Even a city with a relatively well-developed (by non-Silicon Valley standards) venture capital scene, like St. Louis, still faces a severe shortage of seed and pre-seed funding.

That problem led several organizations to create the $5 million Spirit of St. Louis fund, which focuses on the lack of early-stage funding in the St. Louis metro area.

The Spirit of St. Louis fund is great, but $5 million in one city does not solve the systemic lack of early-stage capital plaguing every startup scene in Middle America. However, the role the St. Louis Regional Chamber played in helping to create Spirit of St. Louis fund speaks to an important fact: The lack of early-stage money isn’t a problem that is going to be solved simply by the natural migration of capital to opportunities that are likely to get the highest return. If this problem is going to be solved, it will take leadership from outside of the venture capital world.

In other words, creating good jobs and strengthening local economies aren’t the jobs of venture capital firms. Yes, VC firms here in the Midwest seem to be very community-minded, and job creation is hopefully a byproduct of a successful investment—but the purpose of venture capital is to return the highest possible profit to the fund’s investors, not reinvent local economies.

That’s why addressing the lack of early-stage funding in startup ecosystems outside of the coasts may require the federal government to get involved.

It isn’t as crazy as it sounds.

Politicians from both parties have told us for the past several decades that entrepreneurs and small business owners are the engines of economic growth, and that we are all better off if those individuals are given the opportunity and the resources to create jobs.

For 40 years, one of the primary ways the federal government has tried to do that is through tax cuts.

That approach usually doesn’t work.

Research (and the words of actual CEOs) shows tax cuts for large corporations and wealthy individuals usually aren’t reinvested back into job-creating activities. Instead, large corporations often use the money for share buybacks. In the rare instances when those tax savings are (indirectly) invested in startups, the money flows into funds where it will get the highest return—which means the money isn’t likely to end up in early-stage funds focusing on Midwestern startups.

If you believe the reason for having a startup scene in St. Louis, Kansas City, Des Moines, or Omaha is to recreate Silicon Valley on a smaller scale, then the public sector shouldn’t play a role in solving the lack of early-stage funding. The government definitively should not be in the business of helping just a few people experience the windfall that comes with a billion-dollar exit.

But if you believe that the reason for having a startup scene in those cities is to help create good jobs, strengthen economies, and revitalize communities, then the government may have a role to play in helping early-stage startups access capital. In fact, it may have to play that role.

Of course, no one wants Washington, D.C., deciding which startups are worthy of an investment.

That’s why funding should come in the form of block grants distributed to state and local organizations like the Missouri Technology Corporation.

You could also label a concept like this “corporate welfare.” And, maybe it is—but at least it’s corporate welfare with intent. It isn’t cutting taxes on large corporations because in “theory” they will reinvest in the local economy. Instead, it’s investing money directly in the idea that entrepreneurs are our best job creators.

In most instances, the private sector is the best entity to solve a difficult problem. On occasion, it isn’t. And when the private sector is best suited to solve the problem, it tends to solve it quickly, because being the first to solve the problem means being the first to profit from the solution.

The fact that every founder, funder, and support organization identifies a lack of early-stage funding as a problem yet to be solved tells me that we should at least explore the idea of a public sector solution.